Schaumburg on Stage brings Disney's high-energy musical 'Newsies' to life on stage

Schaumburg on Stage brings Disney's high-energy musical 'Newsies' to life on stage

  • Cast members rehearse a dance scene for Schaumburg on Stage's production of "Newsies," which will be staged Jan. 24-Feb. 9 at the Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts.

    Cast members rehearse a dance scene for Schaumburg on Stage's production of "Newsies," which will be staged Jan. 24-Feb. 9 at the Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts. Courtesy of Schaumburg on Stage

 
By Jennifer Shea
Daily Herald correspondent
Posted1/24/2020 6:00 AM

Schaumburg on Stage is a theater company made for families. And its latest show, Disney's "Newsies," is about a newsboys strike that cuts across family lines.

Shows are at 7 p.m. Fridays, 1 and 7 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. Sundays, Jan 24-26 and Jan. 31-Feb. 2, at the Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Court, Schaumburg. Tickets are $20 and available online or by calling (847) 345-0092.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The musical is based on a 1992 Disney film of the same name. It features music by Alan Menken that won a Tony Award for Best Original Score.

"Newsies" charts the struggles of newsboy Jack Kelly and his friends in 1899 New York. They are a motley group, many of them orphaned or homeless. When newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer hikes the cost of newspapers for the newsboys, they begin to protest.

Meanwhile, Jack crosses paths with Katherine Plummer, a journalist for the New York Sun who becomes an ally of the newsboys. A romance develops, but there's something Katherine hasn't told Jack.

The show has a cast of 70. According to co-director Taylor Benoit, they use more than 100 costumes in the performance.

"There's a lot of dancing in this show -- it really calls for a lot of high energy," Benoit said. "It's been fun, really, seeing all these numbers come together."

Producer Mary Miller said audiences will be impressed by the dance numbers and set design. She said their team wanted to do this musical because it was so popular on Broadway, and because it's a family-friendly production.

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Schaumburg on Stage will present Disney's "Newsies" Jan. 24-Feb. 9 at the Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts. From left are Josiah Turner as Daveys, Michele Gurrieri as Katherine Plummer, Payton Kaye as Jack Kelly and Kate Hammond as Les.
Schaumburg on Stage will present Disney's "Newsies" Jan. 24-Feb. 9 at the Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts. From left are Josiah Turner as Daveys, Michele Gurrieri as Katherine Plummer, Payton Kaye as Jack Kelly and Kate Hammond as Les. - Courtesy of Schaumburg on Stage

"A lot of our kids have seen it," Miller said. "The dancing in this show is phenomenal. It's a typical Disney show, but it also tells the story of the newsboys strike in Newark back in 1899."

Schaumburg on Stage began in 1998. It was founded by Schaumburg residents Carol Lynch and Dorothy Sylvester, who had a dance studio and decided to launch a musical theater company for kids.

One feature that set their company apart was the emphasis on parental involvement. That tradition continues today -- Miller said she had "a bunch of dads right now building the set," with moms handling costumes and props.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Miller bought the company with co-producer Mary Alice Benoit in 2016. When they did, they turned it into a not-for-profit organization.

"Families and parents built this program," Miller said. "Now what we do is we run not only two shows a year, we also do workshops and classes."

This will be the first time Schaumburg on Stage has done a production of "Newsies." The cast and crew have been rehearsing for five hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays.

Schaumburg resident Michele Gurrieri, who plays Katherine, has been acting in Schaumburg on Stage shows for 10 years now. She said participating in theater has taught her valuable life lessons.

"They really have a community (at Schaumburg on Stage)," said Gurrieri, 17. "I've grown up with friends, and these are some of the oldest friends that I have. I'm not only learning musical theater when I'm with them, I'm also learning life things, like how to be a better person."

It's a dance-heavy production, and Gurrieri said the choreography is challenging. But she said it's all worth it for the show's uplifting moments.

"There's one song in Act II when everyone just comes together, and it's like a wall of sound," she said. "It's so overpowering, but in a good way."

The show is a bit of a marathon. Co-director Jim Shedd said the performance demands a lot from its young cast.

"What we really like about this show in particular is it's about a bunch of young workers back in 1899 that are all around our performers' ages," he said. "It's just a wonder to see such young performers with such talent."

Shedd said the creative team at Schaumburg on Stage has been looking at this show for the past few years. They were just waiting for the rights to become available.

Now the sets are built, the kids are excited about their parts and all that remains is for the curtain to go up on their first performance.

"It's like a sport, but the difference is everybody plays," Miller said. "And it's the only sport I know where the kids win every time."

• • •

Schaumburg on Stage's "Newsies"

When: 7 p.m. Fridays, 1 and 7 p.m. Saturdays, and 1 p.m. Sundays, Jan 24-26 and Jan. 31-Feb. 2

Where: Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Court, Schaumburg

Tickets: $20

Details: www.schaumburgonstage.org or (847) 345-0092

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